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German Amazon workers strike on ‘Black Friday’

By AFP
26 November 2020   |   3:49 pm
Some 2,500 Amazon workers in Germany started a three-day strike Thursday timed to disrupt the online retailer's "Black Friday" sales bonanza.

(FILES) In this file photo taken on April 25, 2020 an Amazon distribution center is seen as the coronavirus continues to spread across the United States, in North Las Vegas, Nevada. – E-commerce giant Amazon is offering signing bonuses of up to $3,000 at certain facilities in the United States as it ramps up hiring for the busy holiday season, reported November 24, 2020. The company — which has boomed during the coronavirus pandemic, with more and more shoppers happy to stay home — expects to hire 100,000 seasonal workers.The signing bonuses range from $1,000 to $3,000 for jobs posted in company warehouses in several US states from California to Massachusetts. (Photo by David Becker / AFP)

Some 2,500 Amazon workers in Germany started a three-day strike Thursday timed to disrupt the online retailer’s “Black Friday” sales bonanza.

The strike, called by the powerful Verdi union, is set to last until Saturday and marks the latest escalation in a years-long battle with Amazon for better pay and working conditions.

“We estimate that around 2,500 people went on strike today, a higher number than in similar actions in the past and given the difficult circumstances caused by the pandemic, it’s a big success,” a Verdi spokesman told AFP.

To limit the risk of Covid-19 infections, the union said it was not staging any rallies during the strike.

Amazon in a statement said the walkouts were not affecting customer deliveries since “the majority of employees are working as normal”.

The stoppage affected Amazon distribution facilities in Leipzig, Bad Hersfeld, Augsburg, Rheinberg, Werne and Koblenz.

Verdi has long wanted Amazon to sign on to regional wage agreements covering retail and e-commerce, and has organised numerous walkouts in recent years.

It also wants Amazon to improve health and safety at work, accusing the retail giant of not doing enough to protect staff from the coronavirus at some of its German sites.

Amazon defended its policies, saying it offered “excellent” wages, benefits and career opportunities in a “modern, safe” work environment.

The company employs more than 16,000 people in Germany and has taken on an additional 10,000 seasonal employees to cope with a boom in online shopping triggered by the pandemic.

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